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Marketing, Discussion, Employee Experience, Newsletter, Work Tech Trends, Work Tech Weekly
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Marketing, Discussion, Employee Experience, Newsletter, Work Tech Trends, Work Tech Weekly


Hi Friend,

All business is personal. That’s something that my business partner, Bret Starr, has said time and again over the years. It’s really woven into our ethos at The Starr Conspiracy. When companies choose to work with us, they are trusting us with more than money. They dare to trust us with something incredibly personal – their careers, their hopes, their dreams. We do our best to take that business personally and work with heart. When everything falls into place, we enjoy a richer experience together. You get to know some amazing people along that road.

One of those people is Gene Pease – one of the foremost experts in the field of People Analytics. We worked with him to rebrand his company, Capital Analytics, as it evolved into Vestrics, which was acquired by Ultimate Software in 2016. We love it when good things happen to good people. And that’s what’s really noteworthy about Gene. He’s truly a good human. One of the best in Work Tech IMO.

Earlier this week, Gene posted a LinkedIn health update for which there really are no words. Gene, thank you for your friendship, collaboration, kindness, humor, and gentleness. We are better people because of you. We send all of our love to you and your family. We’ll see you on the other side.

Everything after this is pretty trivial, but here it is anyway.

Fraud accusations rocks recruiting startup

Israeli talent acquisition startup Joonko, which developed an automated sourcing platform focused solely on underrepresented candidates, is on the verge of a shock closure. According to a statement from the Joonko board, CEO Ilit Raz “was found to have engaged in egregious, unethical, and fraudulent conduct, which caused harm to the company and its shareholders.”

Funding and acquisitions

  • Parabola raises $24 million Series B. The San Francisco-based startup uses AI to help expedite back-office processes, particularly in the logistics and e-commerce sectors. (TechCrunch)
  • TransUnion invests $24 million in TrueWork. The startup integrates with third-party services, such as payroll providers, to help mortgage providers and similar lenders verify users and approve loans directly from within their own applications. It can also be used by landlords or employers to carry out background checks. (TechCrunch)
  • Zenerate raises $15 million. The Palo Alto, Calif., startup is a natural language AI Simulation Training solution for customer and prospect-facing agents. (TechCrunch)
  • Datapeople raises $13 million Series A. The NYC startup offers a recruiting predictability platform. (FinSMEs)
  • Settly raises €6 million seed round. The Dutch startup focuses on unburdening employers looking to relocate employees internationally and delivering an optimal experience. (
  • Oliva raises €5 million. The UK startup offers an employee well-being solution that includes on-demand therapy and coaching, group workshops, and other self-guided content. (Silicon Republic)
  • Dust raises $5.5 million seed round. The French startup uses LLMs on internal data to improve team productivity. (TechCrunch)
  • Pollen raises $4 million. The NYC startup offers a professional membership platform for freelancers. (FinSMEs)
  • zvoove Group acquires RecruitNow. The German digital solutions provider for staffing and cleaning service providers in Europe acquired the Dutch ATS for temp staffing companies. (FinSMEs)
  • Bountiful launches referral-as-a-service platform. (Acadian Ventures)
  • GrowthCurve Capital acquires First Analysis portfolio company Netchex, a provider of cloud-based human capital management and payroll software.  (First Analysis)

Want to win $100? Participate in our latest survey and seize the chance to share your thoughts on PR’s significance within marketing and communications strategies.

Gusto hits significant milestones

Industry notes

  • Fosway Group people announcements. David Perring has been promoted to Chief Insights Officer. Dr. Sven Elbert has been promoted to Head of Analyst Services. Myles Runham takes over as Senior Analyst for digital learning. Claire-Marie de Vulliod is now lead analyst in France.
  • While everyone keeps talking about AI, HR tech startups are quietly building toward a $24B market. (TechCrunch)
  • Layoffs: Anaplan, (300 employees/undisclosed % of workforce), ClickUp (90 employees/10%) Headspace (181/15%), Karat (47/ND), Panther (ND/100%), Stripe (ND/ND).
  • MasterClass names first Chief Business Officer. (Training Industry)
  • iSolved announces new AI capabilities. (Training Industry)
  • Walmart, LinkedIn, and Meta test internal Generative AI options for employees. (VentureBeat)
  • OpenAI plans ChatGPT personal assistant for work, setting up Microsoft rivalry. (The Information)
  • ServiceNow unveils Now Assist for AI self-service. (VentureBeat)
  • HSBC rebrands its SVB UK purchase. (TechCrunch)
  • Cohere CEO talks Oracle funding and future of LLMs. (VentureBeat)
  • Trying to close a Series B in 2023? Read this first. (TechCrunch)

Around the shop

Things we are talking about or find interesting right now.

  • Microdosing = Business as usual in Silicon Valley? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Adobe’s awesome new wordmark is not its new logo, but it should be. (Fast Company)
  • LinkedIn changed its newsfeed algorithms. Here’s how to get your post noticed. (Entrepreneur)
  • Juvenile plays NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. Yes, this actually happened. (Consequence)

That’s it for this week!


Everybody love everybody,

Steve Smith

Steve Smith

Partner & Chief Marketing Officer

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A Humble Guide To Fixing Everything In Brand, Marketing, And Sales by Bret Starr is out now. Why the hype? Check it out.